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Short stories of interest

Rothko Via Muncie, Indiana

The 1980s. Beginning of the long decade, the century’slate works. Snow on the grid, field bisectedby a late model John Deere’s progress in low gearwith a front-end load of straw bales. Its operator’s daughterdons her brace, thinks her scoliosis the devil’s workon her, a not-good-enough Christian. Her mother talksscripture on the phone in the kitchen […]

Strays

Dogs of the world, anonymouswanderers, moral conundrums,I find them by the road,scavenging milk cartonsthrown from the bus:feist pups galled with mange,old hounds, blind and lame,at the end of their utility. Such I once whispered secrets toand begged to keepand was commandedto lead into the woodsto execute and bury.And my father was not a bad man.And […]

Calvatica

I.(The pursed turf blowing bubbles.)(A broken string of freshwater pearlsor molars impacted in a grassy gum.) (Firm, the female smell on your fingers),(edible, packed with cool, white roe; the fried flesha savoury foam). (It roosts on its byssus of fine, mycelial hair, and scans the rare vapour-trails and glimmers in the dark–ening, and ripens in its socket.) II.

death

Publish Then Perish

As I write this, CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi is on Twitter tweeting (crowing?) about the success of Canada Reads 2012. For the first time in the eleven-year history of the Survivor-esque best-book competition, every one of the five books under discussion ended up on The Globe and Mail top ten list of Canadian best-sellers.

Turtle Mountain

The first time I worked through here–see how little I knew– first gorgeWest of the Livingstone Range, I was callingInto badger holes, poking sticks down the throatsFor Irish monks.Pitted, pine snow a vinegary bulge against wet rockAt 5,000 feet, burnt trees to the top,Turtle Mountain, from Lost Creek Fire, sunA fingernail scrape in bachelor kettle […]

Karoo

The New Karoo

It began with a phone call. Peter Baker, a Canadian veterinarian with a small animals practice in Johannesburg, South Africa, wanted me to come to Bookbedonnerd III, a literary festival in the Great Karoo Desert village of Richmond. Peter’s partner in the festival, Darryl David, had located my novel The Great Karoo (about western Canadians […]

bards-of-bench

Bards of the Bench

Surely, many of us have played the old parlour game of “who would you rather have over for dinner” with literary figures: Virginia Woolf or Jane Austen? Charles Dickens or Ernest Hemingway? William Butler Yates or Bob Dylan? Michael Ondaatje or Ian Binnie?! Wait a minute. Ian who?

hippies

Sea Hitler Skank

Abbie Hoffman, social activist and professional shit-disturber of the nineteen-sixties once said, “The first duty of a revolutionary is to get away with it.” Since my godmother, Karen, is manifestly a child of the Sixties, I’ve decided to blame Hoffman for her recent stealth exercise in social agitation—though Karen says it all began with her […]

Moon

Moon, there you are again,solo in the pale blue sky.I agree it’s strange,the way I stare.The snow on the mountains is as white, their dark rock as remote. I, too, said goodbye to the earthlong ago. But, you see,I touch it still.With my hands, my feet. My eyes.